Sinha, Pammi, Cockroft, Laurence and Carr, Chris (2008) Design Education in Tanzania; Design Skills & Marketing Capabilities for a Developing Economy. In: Creative Clusters Conference: the creative Economy in Smaller Nations, 16th - 19th November 2008, Glasgow, Scotland. (Unpublished)

A Least Developed Country, 40% of Tanzania is dependent on cotton and its production and products. Presentation will demonstrate how the development of fashion and textile design education in Tanzania links into the various economic policies and institutions committed to helping poverty alleviation and spur the process of industrialisation to the level of the Asian Tiger economies. Policy implications will be presented to maximise the potential value of design education.

In 2005/6, cotton production & processing was the largest agricultural export earner, representing potentially significant contribution to poverty alleviation and socio-economics. I was in a team of nine conducting research into this industry (from seed to design & marketing) funded and co-ordinated by the Tanzania Gatsby Trust (TGT - part of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation) in Dar es Salaam (Dar). My background is fashion design, my PhD examined design/marketing in the fashion design process and I am a lecturer in fashion management at the University of Manchester (UoM). My project task: review current design/marketing capabilities in the fashion/textiles (f/t) sector, recommend methods to help further develop capabilities in the small scale craft (informal) and larger (formal) sectors and identify ways of linking international/national and local designers with a view to encouraging foreign trade investment (FDI).

From my research: SME’s were keen to upgrade their design skills; larger companies less so - many invested in CAD but only for communicating, negotiating and speeding up manufacturing process, working to buyers’ specifications, or amending past successes (thus susceptible to competition from lower cost manufacturers); they recruited designers from overseas, none provided training in design. Dar’s burgeoning business & professional community is enthusiastic about arts, culture and f/t; magazines, tv and internet sites cover news, trends and nationally recognised fashion designers; some non f/t businesses use the promotional powers of the fashion show. Drama and Fine Art education are established through institutes such as Taasisi ya Sanaa na Utamaduni Bagamoyo (Tasuba) and the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). There is no formal education for f/t design and this limits creative thinking and analysis of many issues, especially anticipating future trends.

A framework for establishing design education to degree level in Dar builds upon a system already in place with national implications; it has been adopted by the Vocational and Educational Training Authority (VETA). A government body, VETA has 22 vocational training centres distributed in 20 (of 21) mainland political regions, coordinating over 860 vocational training centres and over 90 courses to vocational level, including tailoring, basic factory production techniques and textile design skills.

Foundation/degree level design training requires creative brief setting/assessing. TGT is funding: (i) VETA trainers to visit UoM to learn about creative briefs (ii) UDSM graduates to undertake MSc studies in textiles (technology and design) at UoM to help re-establish the hitherto abandoned textiles department at UDSM, (iii) VETA to develop a BA in fashion/textiles with the UDSM (VETA have already done a similar exercise with Tourism and Hospitality). Establishing design education through VETA will create networks at local, national and international levels, MoU’s, research, studentships, etc. Individuals will be enabled to engage in a global community, knowledge and know-how exchange, raising creativity and providing a platform on which to invite international buyers and experts.

Attracting FDI is a key feature of successful creative industries in developing nations. Tanzanian f/t sector is largely unable to do so (through uncompetitive skills & production rates in manufacture, lack of access to internationally acceptable quality fabrics, inappropriate styling and quality control). These difficulties are compounded by, among others, the informal nature of the sector, which the government is working to alleviate through initiatives supporting and integrating the (large) informal economy into the mainstream formal. To help maximise the value of design education, a policy message is to focus on reach and quality of secondary level education – normally a prerequisite for foundation/degree - to raise the quality of potential foundation and degree program entrants.

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